UPnP Problems for Managed/Hosted Video

By John Honovich, Published Aug 09, 2010, 08:00pm EDT

UPnP's indeterminate support presents significant problems. Managed/hosted video providers using UPnP risk widespread customer unhappiness. Two key issues predominate:

  1. Significant users lack UPnP support for a provider's UPnP implementation.
  2. Users cannot clearly, quickly and certainly determine their network's UPnP support.

We believe reason #2 (indeterminacy) is the most critical problem. Users can accomodate even technology supporting limited populations if conditions can be clearly identified (e.g., products supporting only Linux or Macs). However, knowing a network's UPnP compatability with a given product is neither simple nor straightforward for even technical users.

Our UPnP LinkedIn discussion [link no longer available] and email conversations offer interesting perspectives on this issue:

  • "I'm in various routers most every day setting up port forwarding and most all of them I see have settings to allow enabling UPnP. However, I never even try it anymore. Not for any security reasons, but because (at least when I WAS trying it out more than 3 years ago) it rarely succeeded in enabling port forwarding."
  • "Our experience is that straight UPnP works slightly under 50% of the time"
  • When UPnP is deployed in an unprotected network or in a network with a large number of devices, it could give migraine to SysAdmins."
  • The problem with UPnP is that its not universal, and it's not always plug and play."
  • [Our UPnP experience] has been pretty bad. They both depend on "external" things behaving rationally and per specification"

Most hosted/managed video providers use an application layer VPN (or simply require manual port forwarding). In our current reviews, UPnP dependency was required only by Archerfish Solo.

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